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Why did Kevin McCarthy speak for eight hours on the House floor?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi wonders if Rep. Kevin McCarthy is OK

Kevin McCarthy speaks on the House floor.
In this image from House Television, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks on the House floor during debate on the Democrats’ expansive social and environment bill at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Washington.
House Television via Associated Press

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, was determined to make history on Thursday.

McCarthy took the House floor at 8:38 p.m. to oppose the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” Act, a $1.75 trillion package consisting of social and climate change programs. He stopped talking eight hours later, according to The New York Times.

  • “Personally, I didn’t think I could go this long,” said McCarthy.
  • When he finished at 5 a.m., he said, “With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back.”
  • Per reports, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had already left hours ago.

Traditionally, leaders from both parties are granted a minute to speak on the matter by the presiding officer but they may take longer, according to NPR, but McCarthy broke the record for the longest speech yet.

Pelosi’s office released a statement titled, “Is Kevin McCarthy OK?” which called McCarthy’s speech a “meandering rant that has nothing to do with the Build Back Better Act.”

McCarthy did delay the Thursday vote as he talked against President Biden’s agenda, among other things.

  • He denounced inflation, per NPR.
  • He also denounced the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
  • At some point, he spoke about a deli he opened when he was younger as well as his desire to buy a Tesla and not being able to afford one, according to the report.

Here are things people on Twitter heard him say: